About Joshua Spencer

Joshua Spencer is an educator, author and poet. He writes out of Toronto Canada

In the Jamaica Observer of Sunday, March 29, 2009, Columnist, Mark Wignall had this to say:

‘MUCH of what the electorate uses to define Portia Simpson Miller is urban legend, fairytale. In politics however, a politician will accept all positives, especially when those defining the politician are not really interested in wrestling with the burden of proof.

So, if over the years her South West St Andrew constituency remains the most economically dilapidated of all 60 constituencies islandwide with staggering levels of unemployment and too high a culture of gunmanship, but she is returned time and again as its member of parliament, why should she rock a boat that is permanently attached to its moorings and is going nowhere?’

The second paragraph of Mr. Wignall’s Column has some truth in it. From a political perspective, why should an MP endeavour to change a constituency of which he or she is in charge, if it has proven that the status quo is a solid insurance for holding on to political power? Some may argue that the fact that Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller lost the last General Election (2007) has proven this conclusion false. It may be true to the extent that the stricken poverty and suffering may not always ensure your party remain in power but it certainly seems to be the case at the local, constituency levels as has been the case with Mrs. Simpson Miller and others who, though existing in a constituency of abject and dire poverty, continue to have the support of the vast majority of their constituencies.

Of course, Mr Wignall was speaking to the point that Mrs Simpson Miller should resign as PNP President for her inability to foster change in her constituency. Again, the columnist may have a point. However, the same argument MUST be true for Mr Bruce Golding? Is the latter’s constituency a Beverly Hill type by nature? I think not! And what about all those other politicians with important leadership roles in the Government? Should the same yardstick not be used to measure their circumstances as well. Should it not?

However, I must conclude that I am in dire concurrence with Mr. Wignall in a general sense. That is, the viewpoint that if one is unable to be successful at the constituency level, how can one be expected to do well at the national, more complex level?

Allowing, for example, a failed councillor to run for the position of MP, or a failed MP, (measured by the standard of living of his/her constituency), is tantamount to elevating a failed mayor to the position of prime minister. Is it not?! To use a second example but in relation to the private sector. A bank’s District VP has a record of dismal failure; so he is promoted to VP of National Operations! You get the drift.

The questions that probably need to be asked in respect to our politicians are, on what basis, criterion or criteria will a politician’s success or failure be measured? Should the standard of living of the residents of the parish council district or constituency be part of this assessment or would it be unfair, as their may be other factors at play here such as a global downturn or the impact of an IMF programme to which the local politician may have no control?

Let me hear from you.

Joshua Spencer, joshuaspencer@rogers.com
Toronto, Canada